Joe Mauer leads the Twins in games played and games started, and has appeared in the last 23 consecutive games. He’s also the oldest position player on the Twins. So when Paul Molitor thought about how best to mitigate the effects of his team’s red-eye flight home, the first baseman was a prime candidate to get the night off.
Then there’s this: Mauer is a .163 career hitter against Yankees starter CC Sabathia, with 20 strikeouts in 49 at-bats. Sabathia hasn’t allowed more than two runs in his last six starts, and three earned runs total in May and June. So Mauer will be in the dugout tonight, with Byong Ho Park at first base and Trevor Plouffe serving as the designated hitter.
Kyle Gibson, who stayed home this week while his teammates were losing two out of three in Anaheim, will be on the mound tonight, trying to prevent Minnesota’s 10th losing streak of at least three games this season. Like the Twins, the Yankees are a last-place team, but the resemblance ends there: New York has lost four straight games to fall to 31-34, but they remain only 6 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East.
Former Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks isn’t in the lineup, but he’s on New York’s bench, and ex-Twin Antony Swarzak is in the bullpen. Chris Parmelee would be here too, but suffered a hamstring injury a week ago that has him on the disabled list.
The Twins have lost five straight games to New York, and Gibson has a 10.72 ERA in five career starts against the Yankees.
Here are tonight’s lineups for the beginning of a four-game series with New York: